UW News

October 12, 2017

UW names second CSE building the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering


A group calling themselves “Friends of Bill & Melinda” have donated more than $30 million to name the UW’s second CSE building the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering, in honor of the couple.LMN Architects

The University of Washington Board of Regents on Thursday approved the naming of the new computer science building under construction on the Seattle campus as the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering.

The naming of the building in honor of the Gateses was made possible by gifts from Microsoft Corp. and a group of local business and philanthropic leaders who are longtime friends and colleagues of the couple.

Microsoft President Brad Smith, who leads the fundraising campaign for the building, joined with his wife Kathy Surace-Smith and fellow campaign committee members Charles and Lisa Simonyi in spearheading the naming effort. More than a dozen couples made personal contributions to the naming gift, viewing it as a unique opportunity to express their gratitude to Bill and Melinda.

Photo of Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering under construction

The Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering, currently under construction (left), is on track to be completed by the end of 2018.Mark Stone/University of Washington

“There is wonderful symbolism in having the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering across the street from the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering on the University of Washington campus,” said Brad Smith. “As teenagers, Bill and Paul roamed UW computer labs. They went on to change the face of Seattle and the world — first with Microsoft, and later with their philanthropy. I can’t think of a better way for those of us who have had the privilege of working alongside Bill and Melinda to express our gratitude and admiration than to name this building for them.”

The group affectionately calling themselves the “Friends of Bill & Melinda” has directed more than $30 million toward the $110 million building project. In addition to Microsoft, Smith and Surace-Smith, and the Simonyis, the “Friends of Bill & Melinda” donors include: Jim & Catherine Allchin, Rich & Sarah Barton, Jeff & MacKenzie Bezos, Lloyd & Janet Frink, Craig & Marie Mundie, Satya & Anu Nadella, Jeff & Tricia Raikes, Rob Short & Emer Dooley, Harry Shum & Ka Yan Chan, Brad & Jan Silverberg, and John Stanton & Terry Gillespie.

“We’re gratified by the way the community has come together to support this project and to honor the tremendous, global impact of Bill and Melinda Gates,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce said. “The Gates Center will enable us to prepare more students to be the innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow — and to follow the Gateses’ example in seeking to positively affect people’s lives and invest in communities near and far. We are thankful to this group of leaders and donors for their generosity.”

The naming gift includes two previously announced contributions: a $10 million gift from Microsoft and a $5 million gift from Charles and Lisa Simonyi. Microsoft contributed an additional $10 million, and other couples contributed the remainder.

rendering of atrium

As shown in this atrium rendering, the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering was designed with features and spaces to enhance the student experience.LMN Architects

The new 135,000-square-foot building will double the space available for the University’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, enabling it to provide an unparalleled education and research experience to more of Washington’s students. Among the highlights of the facility will be a 3,000-square-foot robotics laboratory; wet lab space to house the school’s leading-edge research in molecular information systems; an undergraduate commons that will serve as a “home away from home” for students; a 250-seat auditorium; and a flexible event venue for hosting workshops, recruiting fairs and other community-oriented events.

Construction of the Bill & Melinda Gates Center is on track to be completed by the end of 2018, with the dedication planned for early 2019.

The gifts come in the midst of the University’s most ambitious philanthropic campaign in its history, “Be Boundless — For Washington, For the World.” The campaign seeks to raise $5 billion by 2020.

For more information, contact Ed Lazowska at lazowska@uw.edu.